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Magnet Theater Blog: News and Ideas about Comedy, Improv Shows & Classes in NYC

Posts Tagged ‘TJ Mannix’

Saturday October 17, 2015, 12:00pm - by Magnet Theater


In 2009, musical improv was still a relatively new form. The Magnet had two musical teams performing on every-other Friday – and the weekly Made Up Musical.

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Having been a part of so many improv festivals over the years, I thought the time was right for one that focused just on musical improv. When I pitched the idea of the first annual New York Musical Improv Festival, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I went to the two musical teams and asked if anyone wanted to volunteer. Two hands went up, Robin Rothman and Melanie Girton. We became a producing team (eventually including Mary Archbold, Lisa Flanagan, and Michael Lutton) and organized the first festival in November 2009.

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It was two nights long and featured NYC teams, Broadway performers, and “BASH” from Chicago – Blaine Swen’s incredible one man improvised musical provoked the first spontaneous standing ovation I ever saw at the Magnet. (The photo [to the right] is from the Tara Copeland’s “NYMIF All-Star Show.” Notice the old wooden chairs.)

2010 included performers from Chicago, Minneapolis and Washington DC, and cast members and musicians from Broadway’s “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson.”

We sponsored our first benefit performance for Gilda’s Club New York City – featuring our first Tony Award winner (Cady Huffman from “The Producers”) and Tony nominated guest performers.  This has become an annual event raising money and awareness for Gilda’s Club NYC. We also celebrate the comedic legacy of Gilda Radner with an all-female musical team “Generation G.”

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It also featured over-doing it, forgetting to eat, and not sleeping – as one of our producers was carried from the Magnet office into to a waiting ambulance.

2011 may have over-expanded. It was six nights long and had a producing teams of 16 people. Since then, we have enjoyed a four night festival with three or four people on the producing team and over the years, the festival has featured hundreds of performers from across the U.S. and Canada, and even Australia.

From the beginning, the goals of the New York Musical Improv Festival have been clear:

1. Treat the performers like gold.

2. Promote Musical Improv as a form in NYC and across the country.

3. Promote the Magnet Theater.

4. Feature every performer and their home theatre – even if it’s down the street from ours.

As the festival grew, so did the musical improv program at the Magnet – from one level to four, from two musical megawatt teams to as many as nine. Other musical improv programs in NYC, Chicago, Boston, and across the country grew every year. Chicago now has MCL – Music Comedy Live – with musical improv shows seven nights a week.

Performers return to the Magnet year after year for the NYMIF, meeting, performing, watching shows, exchanging ideas, talking theatre upkeep and mortgages, arranging to perform at each others theaters – and relaxing at the annual performers brunch. 

As we head into our 7th annual festival, we can proudly say that the NYMIF and the Magnet are recognized as national leaders in musical improv.

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Wednesday October 7, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

TJ Mannix Podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Musical improviser, gifted actor, and flat-out handsome man, T.J. MANNIX stops by the podcast to talk about pursuing his dreams in NYC, the craft of acting, and the upcoming New York Musical Improv Festival [NYMIF]. This is our 60th episode and we’re excited to share it with one of Magnet’s beloved instructors and long-time performers. T.J and host, Louis Kornfeld, discuss T.J.’s wide range of experience as an entertainer, everything from DJing for college radio to getting the right take on Law & Order, and of course, Louis opines on NYC’s romantic appeal. Give it a listen, kiddos!

Hear about T.J.’s time spent as a middle-of-the-night college radio DJ and about how Louis didn’t start listening to music until college. Find out what Louis’ first two cassette tapes were and what songs kept T.J. connected to English while studying abroad in Germany. Plus, Louis talks about his years in “local local broadcasting” on Staten Island.

T.J. moved to NYC in 1997 from North Carolina, where he had lived for a few years. He was working for Blockbuster Video and acting on the side, but was finally convinced by visiting actors from New York to give his dream a shot. He subsequently moved to NYC and got a job at the Jekyll & Hyde Club, which he explains was a very different place when he worked there. He talks all about all the fun the staff had and what it was like having it as his first gig in New York. Louis gives his thoughts on surveys, which we know you want to hear.

It’s been about 10 or 11 years now that T.J. has been a performer without a “day job,” so Louis wants to know, “What is it like to be a working actor?” Amongst the advice T.J. bestows, he says you’ve got to “9-to-5 it” because you’re the CEO of your own company. He gets into the life of a working actor and he and Louis end up disucussing NYC neighborhood culture. Next, Louis wants to know, “What’s the strangest job you’ve had in recent memory?” You’ll get to hear all about that, but [spoiler alert] it wasn’t playing Santa Claus at Radio City Music Hall, but he talks about that fun experience as well, even giving away some Rockettes stage secrets.

Without a doubt, T.J. loves the process of acting. He talks about learning on your feet as an actor and tells of his experience working on Law & Order: SVU. He embraces and cherishes the challenge of just about any acting job and recognizes both the strengths and weaknesses in different kinds of actor training. He and Louis talk about small moments on stage and dealing with auditions. Plus, T.J. gives a great tip for playing villains.

Finally, the episode concludes with a discussion of the upcoming 7th Annual NYMIF, Oct 15-18 at Magnet Theater. Working with co-producers Robin Rothman and Michael Lutton, the festival is in its 7th year and has 215 performers coming to the stage. T.J. talks about what the festival has meant to the musical improv community and he shouts out some returning favorites that he’s looking forward to seeing!

Friday June 15, 2012, 9:07am - by catherinewing

As New York City Pride kicks off this weekend, the Magnet Theater is proud to present Pride Night 2012!  We’ve got a sparkly line-up of shows tonight that highlight LGTBQ issues and LGBTQ performers, with lots of sketch, music, and improv. Let’s take a walk across the rainbow, shall we?

At 7pm, we have the one-man show, Cock of the Walk. Written and performed by Athos Cakiades, and directed by Kelly Haran, Cock of the Walk introduces you to five characters that explore masculinity and the male psyche in ways that will tickle your funny bone. It promises to be “pretty dirty” and “rather gay,” which is our idea of a good time at the Magnet Theater on a Friday night.  Also, it’s a Time Out New York Critics’ Pick!

At 8:30pm, Gay Bomb: The Musical returns to the Magnet stage for its June run. Check out all the media attention, from the featured article on the front page of EDGE New York, to the blurb in Chelsea Now. There are only four shows left, so if you haven’t gotten GAY BOMBed yet, it is highly recommended that you come see the show very soon. And (shhhhh!) we’ve got a secret discount code for $7 tickets. Please enter “POTUS Felching” when you buy your tickets here.

Friday, 6/15, 8:30pm
Monday, 6/18, 8:30pm
Friday, 6/22, 8:30pm
Friday, 6/29, 8:30pm (Closing Night)

Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel, and book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte.

Starring: Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, TJ Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu.

At 10pm, we have a special Made-Up Musical with a cast of LGBTQ performers, all from Musical Megawatt house teams: Melissa Gordon, Oscar Montoya, Andrew Fafoutakis, T.J. Mannix, Michael Lutton, and Catherine Wing.   You can’t have a full night of LGBTQ comedy without musical improv, right?

The LGBTQ cast of tonight's Made-Up Musical

All the singing and dancing and Broadway jazz hands will get you nicely warmed up for the final show of the night.

At 11:30pm, There’s No Place Like Home presents a GLTBQ All-Star Improv Event.  Andrew Fafoutakis hosts a special night of homo hilarity with a cast of improv superstars: Bianca Casusol, Kevin Gilligan, Melissa Gordon, Scott Lawrie, Michael Lutton, T.J. Mannix, Michael Martin, Oscar Montoya, Louie Pearlman, Nathan Peterman, Emily Schorr Lesnick, Emily Shapiro, Steven Slate, Lauren Ashley Smith, Catherine Wing, and a Super Special Guest!  It’s a fantastic and fun way to end Pride Night 2012.  But don’t just take our word for it.  Check it out — There’s No Place Like Home is a Time Out New York Critics’ Pick!  Come on by and celebrate Pride with us tonight!

Wednesday April 18, 2012, 9:04pm - by admin

In celebration of its 7th Anniversary, Magnet held its first completely ridiculous and ironically meaningful award ceremony. It was the 1st Annual Maggie Awards and everyone played fell into their appropriate roles immediately; the winners were falsely modest and the nominees who lost pretended it was an honor just to be nominated. The presenters were sharp and read the prompter with varying degrees of skill and self conscious sexiness.

Here are some moments from the ceremony for those of you in the community who couldn’t be there, and those of you who were there and aren’t sure this actually happened.  Enjoy

Here is a video of the opening number.  Peter McNerney was our Billy Crystal, accompanied by Steve Whyte and  Joel Esher.  Also appearing in the opening number were Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders and Santa Claus. 

Click after the jump for the complete list of nominees and winners.